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High and increasing food prices limit food access

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • October 2012
High and increasing food prices limit food access

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • The September to December Vuli rains started in September, but the start of season rainfall distribution remains poor in many areas. There are reports of poor germination and of the drying out of the bean crop that was planted in September. This will likely result in reduced bean production. 

    • The lean season is intensifying as household food stocks diminish. Food prices are increasing, and some prices for maize, rice, and beans were between 50 and 109 percent above the five-year average in September. 

    • Food security outcomes will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December in the bimodal-to–unimodal transition areas and some central areas. These areas will most likely improve in January following the 2012/13 Vuli harvests.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • High staple food prices across the country since July are limiting food access for market-dependent households.
    • Prices will likely remain high until January 2013 when the Vuli harvests are expected.

    Bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas

    • These areas received below normal rainfall during 2012 March to June Masika and November to February Msimu rains resulting in below average production.
    • The situation is anticipated to improve in January when harvests from Vuli harvests become available following forecasted average to above average September to December Vuli rains.

    Banana- growing areas of Kagera Region

    • The prevalence and spread of banana bacterial wilt (BXW) that started in 2006 has continued to reduce the availability of bananas both as a staple food and cash crop, resulting in increasing demand for non-local food supplies.
    • Food security is likely to improve following the September to December Vuli rains forecasted to be average to above average that will increase production of alternative crops including cassava, sweet potatoes, and yams in January 2013.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013

    Below normal production during the 2011/12 production season in the bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas and some central areas, high cereal demand across the neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Kenya, high transportation cost as a result of high fuel prices, and high food and non-food inflation rates have kept food prices in September as high as 50 to 109 percent above the five-year average. Households whose production was below average continue depending on markets for food purchases. Given the limited income sources, casual labor dependent households and households that depend on crop sales both have limited available income to cope with higher food prices.

    The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) is purchasing maize to replenish their dwindling stocks following recent market releases and direct distribution to the affected population in Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Shinyanga, Mara, Mwanza, and Iringa. Initially, the target was to purchase 200,000 metric tons (MT) this season, but the target may not be met due to decreasing market stocks and high competition between NFRA and private traders. In the future, lower NFRA stocks might limit the capacity of the government to intervene in the market by releasing stocks to stabilize food prices or by conducting direct distributions to food insecure households.

    This outlook would change significantly if the Vuli season were to be poorer than forecast. The Vuli harvests normally contribute around 30 percent of total national food requirements. These harvests also help moderate food prices in the time leading up to the main Msimu harvests in April and May in the unimodal areas. A poorer rainy season would likely lead to higher food prices and a higher food insecure population.

    Bimodal areas and the bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas

    The September to December Vuli rainy season has started in some bimodal areas, it is expected to extend to all areas by the middle to end of October. Poor and erratic rains have been reported in parts of Kagera region where the rain started in September but then stopped completely until mid-October. The planted bean crop has dried up or been stunted. The replanting of beans is unlikely for all areas both due to a shortage of seeds and lack of cash income to purchase seeds for replanting. Households in the bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas and some of the central marginal areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the end of December and will improve beginning in January through at least March due to Vuli harvests and associated casual labor opportunities.

    Banana-growing areas of Kagera Region

    Extended dry conditions have exacerbated prevalence of banana bacterial wilt (BXW) resulting into further reduction of the banana crop. Households are depending on markets for food supplies, having already exhausted any stocks from the Masika harvest in July. High food prices and limited income-earning options will limit food access during the October to December lean season. During the lean season, locally produced food is often available only in small quantities on markets though food from other regions remains available. The delay in normal Vuli rainfall amounts across the bimodal areas will also delay pasture rejuvenation. This may delay the usual November seasonal resumption of higher milk availability.

    The Tanzania Food Security and Nutrition Analysis System (MUCHALI) is currently conducting food security and nutrition assessment in the areas affected by below average food production to determine the number of food insecure population in the bimodal and bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas and in Singida, Iringa, and Dodoma in the central, unimodal areas. These are the major areas of potential concern.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly, October 1-10, 2012

    Figure 2

    Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly, October 1-10, 2012

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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